Category Archives: Food-borne Infections

How I almost poisoned my family with holiday leftovers

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white-bean-and-ham-soupBy 
Public Health – Seattle & King County

A white bean and vegetable soup seemed the perfect use of the last of the remaining ham from the holidays. I felt pretty pleased with myself for cooking it two days before parents came for a visit–that would give it the right amount of time to reach full flavor, and it would be ready to heat when I got home from work.

By shutting the soup in the cooler, I had created the perfect laboratory for toxins to form.

When I finished cooking, I realized that I didn’t have room in the fridge for the enormous pot of soup. But the outside temperature was plenty cold, so I decided to store it on the outside deck, protecting it from raccoons by putting it inside a cooler. I once again felt pleased with my cleverness as I shut the cooler lid tightly with my soup safe inside.

Second thoughts

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Chipotle in South Lake Union closed for repeated food safety violations

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chipotleBy  
Public Health – Seattle & King County

Public Health – Seattle & King County’s Food Safety Program closed the Chipotle Mexican Grill at 212 Westlake Ave. N today for repeated food safety violations.

Last month, forty-three Chipotle restaurants in Washington and Oregon voluntarily closed their doors when they became linked with an E. Coli outbreak.

In order to re-open their facilities, restaurants were required to perform a top-down cleaning and sanitation, discard all produce, and pass an inspection by our health inspectors.

On November 1o, all seventeen King County Chipotle restaurants met criteria to reopen their doors.

In the time since, Public Health has continued to closely monitor Chipotle and has conducted inspections at all King County locations.

The South Lake Union restaurant closed today has received red violations on three consecutive visits, including the inspection today (its second inspection since the E. coli outbreak).

Red violations indicate improper practices or procedures identified as the most prevalent in contributing to foodborne illness.

In each one of these inspections, the total red violation points were between 25-33 points out of 400 possible points, well below the 90 point threshold for a closure.

However, because this location showed repeated violations, the health department closed the restaurant.

Public Health food program staff are working with Chipotle to correct these problems, and the restaurant will be allowed to re-open pending an inspection.

Chipotle inspection 1

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Two hospitalized, nearly 200 sickened in Seattle norovirus outbreak | Reuters

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Norovirus CDC: Charles DNearly 200 people who attended a catered party at a downtown Seattle office building have become ill with norovirus, a public health official said on Monday.

Public health officials closed all the food-service locations inside the Russell Investments Center in downtown Seattle, including a Starbucks location, said Dr. Meagan Kay, a medical epidemiologist for the public health department.

Source: Two hospitalized, nearly 200 sickened in Seattle norovirus outbreak | Reuters

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U.S. FDA still searching for source of E. coli outbreak at Costco | Reuters

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E coli - Photo NIAIDA U.S. federal agency has yet to identify the source of an E. coli outbreak that sickened at least 19 people in seven states who may have been infected after eating rotisserie chicken salad sold at Costco Wholesale Corp.

A U.S. Food and Drug Administration laboratory analysis did not confirm the presence of E. coli in a sample of celery and onion mix collected from a Costco store in Montana, the agency said on Tuesday.

Source: U.S. FDA still searching for source of E. coli outbreak at Costco | Reuters

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Costco E coli outbreak linked to celery and onion used in chicken salad – CDC

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19163An outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 infections linked to rotisserie chicken salad sold at Costco stores may have been caused by contamination of celery and onions used in making the salad, according the US Centers of Disease Control and Prevention

The presence of the bacteria was discovered in sample of celery and onion diced blend collected from a Costco store by the Montana Public Laboratory.

The blend was used to make the Costco rotisserie chicken salad eaten by ill people in this outbreak.

Preliminary results indicated the presence of E. coli O157:H7. Laboratory testing is ongoing to isolate the E. coli bacteria and then determine the DNA fingerprint to confirm the link.

As a result of the preliminary laboratory results, on November 26, 2015, Taylor Farms Pacific, Inc., voluntarily recalled multiple products containing celery because they may be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7.

Escherichia coli O157:H7 is a bacterium that causes a diarrheal illness often with bloody stools. Although most healthy adults can recover completely within a week, some people can develop a form of kidney failure called Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS).

HUS is most likely to occur in young children and the elderly. The condition can lead to serious kidney damage and even death.

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E coli outbreak linked to Costco chicken salad spreads to 7 states

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19163As of November 23, 2015, 19 people in seven states have been reported to be infected with a strain of E coli that has been linked to chicken salad sold at Costco, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Tuesday. The strain is known as known as Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli O157:H7 (STEC O157:H7).

Five have been hospitalized, and 2 have developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a type of kidney failure. No deaths have been reported, the CDC said.

Evidence available at this time suggests that rotisserie chicken salad made and sold in Costco Wholesale stores in several states is a likely source of this outbreak.

Fourteen of 16 people purchased or ate rotisserie chicken salad from Costco in the week before illness started.

The ongoing investigation has not identified what specific ingredient in the chicken salad is linked to illness.

Costco reported to public health officials that the company had removed all remaining rotisserie chicken salad from all stores in the U.S. and stopped further production of the product until further notice.

Consumers who purchased rotisserie chicken salad from any Costco store in the United States on or before November 20, 2015, should not eat it and should throw it away.

Even if some of the rotisserie chicken salad has been eaten and no one has gotten sick, throw the rest of the product away.

This product has a typical shelf life of 3 days and is labeled “Chicken Salad made with Rotisserie Chicken” with item number 37719 on the label.

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Costco chicken salad connected to King County E. Coli case

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E coli - Photo NIAIDBy Lindsay Bosslet
Public Health – Seattle & King County

The Washington State Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in conjunction with local health officials, are currently investigating a cluster of E. coli O157:H7 cases that has been connected to Costco chicken salad.

One case has been reported in Washington state. This person, a King County resident, is a teen male who was not hospitalized. He reported eating the implicated product, which he purchased from the Shoreline Costco.

For more information on this outbreak, read this press release from Washington State Department of Health.

If you purchased this product (number 37719) from a Washington Costco, discard it and do not eat it.

People who have eaten this product and feel ill should consult with their health care provider. People usually get sick 2-8 days after getting E. coli.

PHOTO: E coli courtesy of National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Disease

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Costco takes chicken salad off Washington shelves due to E. coli

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Escherichia Coli_NIAID E Coli BacteriaFrom Washington State Department of Health

Chicken Salad made with Rotisserie Chicken” from Costco has been connected with at least one case of E. coli O157:H7 in Washington. Consumers who purchased this product – item number 37719 – from any Washington Costco location should discard it.

The Department of Health, along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other western states, are investigating E. coli illnesses from chicken salad purchased from various Costco stores in late October. Washington has confirmed one case of E. coli O157:H7 from King County, who became ill in late October. This confirmed case was not hospitalized.

Others states with confirmed E. coli cased linked to Costco chicken salad include Colorado, Montana, and Utah.

“We take E. coli very seriously in Washington,” said State Epidemiologist Dr. Scott Lindquist, “and we are working with CDC and state partners to determine the source.”

Others states with confirmed E. coli cased linked to Costco chicken salad include Colorado, Montana, and Utah. In addition to CDC, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and U.S. Department of Agriculture are working with Costco to determine the source of the contamination. Continue reading

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Testing fails to find source of E. coli outbreak linked to Chipotle restaurants

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chipotleFrom the Washington State Department of Health

Food safety and disease investigation staff from the Washington State Department of Health are still working to investigate the cause of an outbreak of illnesses linked to 27 cases of E. coli O26 illnesses in Washington.

The first round of test results did not find E. coli bacteria in food samples taken from several Chipotle restaurants according to officials at the Food and Drug Administration.

EscherichiaColi_NIAIDThe 27 cases, connected in this outbreak include people from Clark (11), Cowlitz (2), Island (2), King (6), Skagit (5), and Whatcom (1) counties.

Ten of these people were hospitalized; no Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS) complications or deaths have been reported. Most people who are ill report eating at Chipotle restaurants before getting sick.

In Washington, the most recent case reported eating at Chipotle on October 24. While health officials believe the risk for new exposures is very low, the number of cases in the outbreak may rise or fall as pending lab tests determine if more ill people have this specific strain of E.coli infection. In Washington, four tests are still in progress. Continue reading

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E. coli outbreak likely linked to Chipotle restaurants grows

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chipotleFrom Public Health – Seattle & King County

The investigation into an outbreak of E. coli illnesses that may be related to Chipotle restaurants in Washington and Oregon has grown from 19 reported Washington cases to 25 as of today.

The Washington State Department of Health continues working closely with local, state, and federal partners on a disease investigation to learn the extent of the outbreak and possible sources of E. coli bacteria.

In Washington, residents of Clark (11), Cowlitz (2), Island (2), King (6), and Skagit (4) counties have been reported as outbreak cases.

Of the 25 cases, 23 reported having been at Chipotle restaurants before getting sick. Nine of the Washington residents were hospitalized. Cases range in age from five-to-60. No deaths have been reported in this outbreak.

There are five Washington restaurants associated with this outbreak: Hazel Dell, 7715 NE 5th Avenue, Suite 109, in Vancouver; 1404 Broadway Avenue and 4229 University Way NE in Seattle; 512 Ramsey Way 101 in Kent; and 1753 S. Burlington Blvd. in Burlington.

The Oregon Department of Public Health has information on cases in that state. The state health agencies and local health partners are coordinating with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration on the investigation.

Chipotle restaurants are under a voluntary closure. The Washington Department of Health Food Safety Program staff are working to establish criteria for the restaurants in this state to reopen.

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19 E. coli infections linked to Chipotle restaurants

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chipotleFrom Washington State Department of Health

A cluster of E. coli cases led to the voluntary closure of many Chipotle restaurants this week.

The restaurants under investigation are linked to 19 cases of E. coli illnesses in Washington.

Three more cases were reported from Oregon, also associated with Chipotle restaurants.

Seven of the Washington patients and one Oregon patient were hospitalized; there have been no deaths.

Four cases were reported in King County, nine in Clark County, one in Cowlitz County, and five in Skagit County. Three cases were reported in Oregon residents.

While the outbreak appears to be linked to food served at Chipotle restaurants, the food or other source of contamination hasn’t yet been determined and remains under investigation. Continue reading

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E coli outbreak may be linked to Chipotle restaurants

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Health officials say 19 E. coli cases may be linked to Chipotle restaurants in Wash. and Ore.

chipotleBy Hilary N. Karasz 
Public Health – Seattle & King County

Health officials are currently investigating a multi-state outbreak of E. coli that may be linked to Chipotle restaurants.

Four cases were reported in King County. While the outbreak is currently under investigation, preliminary information is that fourpeople in King County have become ill, two teenagers and two people in their 20s.

One of the teens and one of the people in his/her 20s were hospitalized. In King County, all four ill people ate at a Chipotle between October 19 and 23.

While the outbreak appears to be linked to food served at Chipotle restaurants, the food or other source of contamination hasn’t yet been determined and remains under investigation.

Chipotle restaurants in Washington have voluntarily closed until further information on the cause of the outbreak is available.

Chipotle restaurants in Washington have voluntarily closed until further information on the cause of the outbreak is available.

The type of E. coli implicated in this outbreak has not been confirmed but is a strain of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli similar to E. coli O157:H7. It can cause bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramps, fever, and vomiting. It can sometimes result in severe, life-threatening illness and death. In general, anyone with bloody diarrhea should see a healthcare provider.

Learn more by reading the Washington State Department of Health and the Oregon Health Authority news releases.

Follow Public Health Insider for updates next week and beyond.

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Can Yelp help track food poisoning outbreaks?

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yelp-logoBy Barbara Feder Ostrov
KHN

When a Shigella outbreak at a San Jose, Calif. seafood restaurant sickened dozens of people last weekend, Yelp reviewers were on the case – right alongside public health officials.

“PLEASE DO NOT EAT HERE!!!!” Pauline A. wrote in her Oct. 18 review of the Mariscos San Juan #3 restaurant. “My sister in and brother-in-law along with his parents ate here Friday night and all four of them ended up in the hospital with food poisoning!!!”

Research suggests that Yelp reviews may act as an early warning system or identify potential patients that public health officials might not otherwise have found in their food-borne illness investigations.

That same day, the Santa Clara County Public Health Department shut down the restaurant. Two days later, officials announced that more than 80 people who had eaten there had become acutely ill, with many requiring hospitalization. Twelve diners went to intensive care units.

Since then, the outbreak has grown to  more than 90 cases in Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties. Continue reading

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